It kind of feels like we’re reaching the end of Survivor, but as Jeff Probst mentioned several times, we still got a whole lot of TV left to watch. Going into this week’s episode, there were only two people left standing on Ulong, the saddest tribe in Survivor history. Week after week, we’ve watched the numbers dwindle, and with only two left, it kind of felt like the season finale this time around. I mean, Koror doesn’t even feel like they’re playing the game anymore. Yes, they do participate in the challenges (and win them too), but there’s a sense that when it comes to eliminations, they just are along for the ride. After Ulong goes kaput, the season will be over and we’ll all be off on our merry ways. Ah, but what if Koror happens to lose an immunity? Maybe this would be the week where everything changes for Steph and Bobby Jon. After all, these two plucky Ulong survivors have proven to be the strongest, most iron-willed members of their depleted tribe. Surely their time has arrived, right? Well, I’m sure as long as the immunity challenge doesn’t require a puzzle again, they’ll be fine…The episode began with Steph and Bobby Jon thanking each other for sticking by their words. “Bobby Jon and I, we’re the two people best for the job right now,” explained Steph. I wasn’t sure what the “job” was, but I’ll just assume it had to do with losing and/or crushed spirits. Nevertheless, it was down to two, which meant there was little for Ulong to do other than pray that one of these days, incompetency would somehow yield results.
Meanwhile, over at Koror, the plagues seemed to be descending on the merry camp. Okay, maybe just vermin. Yes, a host of rats and bugs had taken over the professionally assembled shelter, much to the dismay of all the residents. You gotta hand it to these critters. It takes a bold rat to not fear Katie’s extreme tartness. Luckily, these rodents appeared to be plague-free which meant people were less apt to squeal and more likely to scoff at their presence. This predictably led to a roundtable discussion as to why now the rats had made Koror their home away from home. Tom postulated that the humans no longer seemed like a threat and therefore the rats had become emboldened. Yeah, that sounds like a nifty, Pavlov-friendly idea. But I think it has more to do with the fact that Koror is just one sloppy, nasty tribe. A quick survey of the grounds revealed that dirty junk was everywhere, including Tom’s old shark head which had been mounted and rotting on a nearby tree. Yeah, well, now I know why the rats felt so comfortable: the humans were IDIOTS.
At least one person seemed to be with the program though. That’s right, our old friend Coby registered dismay at the grimy condition of the camp and even went so far as to remove Tom’s hallowed shark head from its perch. I personally was surprised that Ian didn’t tackle Coby and yell, “You can’t do that! It’s sacred! If Tom finds out I let someone touch the almighty shark head, he’ll lash me forty times with a cat-o-nine tails! I can’t betray my master, my keeper, my lover!”
Sadly, no such moment of homoerotic passion irrupted forth from Ian. However, that’s not to say tempers were calm at Koror. After disposing of the decomposing shark flesh, Coby then chastised the tribe’s ladies in an interview, saying that all they do is sit around and let the men wait on them. “I’m too much of a feminist to watch this happen,” he said, instantly creating one of the best Survivor lines in franchise history. His solution: vote ‘em all off! Personally, I would have simply smacked them around a little bit. Okay, I wouldn’t do that. But I would make Katie swing on a vine for a few hours, just to see her flop into a tree or a boulder again.
Eventually it came time for the reward challenge and sure enough, it was finally the dreaded food competition. Jeff Probst happily summoned the teams and announced “Today you’ll be eating…” (Please be poop. Please be poop.) “Balut.” Aw, shucks. I really wanted them to eat poop. Okay, so basically two people from each team had to square off and consume balut, an island delicacy / FDA violation. Basically, this tasty morsel was a partially formed duckling egg. Yum! Even better, the savory fetuses had beaks and feathers, making the entire experience bird-tastic! Despite all this, I’m still pretty sure eating twelve baluts is a hell of a lot easier than downing three Cadbury Cream Eggs (so sweet, so creamy, so — my god! My teeth have instantly rotted away!!!).
After happily introducing us to Balut, Jeff Probst’s rictus of sadism widened even further as he announced the teams would be playing for personal hygiene products such as mouth wash, soap, shampoo, and deodorant. Sadly, something tells me though that Ian probably never uses these things anyway. Never one to pass up a moment of hostility, Probst noted that this prize was important because “You guys reek.” Caryn responded with a laugh so huge, you’d think she’d just won tickets to Tina Turner’s farewell tour.
Nevertheless, it was time to get this party going. Bobby Jon and Steph went up against Batman and Robin, aka Tom and Ian. The first few rounds were fairly ordinary as the goal was to simply eat the Balut without any time restraints. Tom was more than delighted to throw in a few cocky comments like “Watch the beak” and “Got a chirp out of that one”. Ironically, those are the exact same sweet nothings he and Ian whisper to each other late at night. (Man, it’s really hard for two heterosexual men to be friends on reality TV. We bloggers are always trying to make them gay).
Anyway, after everyone had ingested their fare share of duckling abortions, Probst announced that each duo would elect one person to battle it out in a time challenge. The first team to eat five baluts (or six. Honestly, I don’t remember), would win reward. Bobby Jon volunteered for Ulong, while Tom announced that “It’s gonna be Tom.” Man, you know he’s getting cocky when he starts referring to himself in the third person. Well, if there’s anything we should know by now, it’s that when Bobby Jon steps up for Ulong, Ulong loses. Sure enough, BJ crammed all the baluts in his mouth at once, but unfortunately, this strategy backfired as he soon discovered he had hardly any room to chew and swallow. Tom, meanwhile, chugged along at a consistent pace, eventually overtaking Bobby Jon and winning the reward. Probst happily raised up the basket of cleaning products and announced “You can take this back with you.” He then added “Just don’t get close to me. I fear that Ian’s stench will forever ruin the sweet joys of odor.”
We then paused for a commercial break. I mean, we didn’t go to commercial. The show simply stopped so we could gaze upon the sheer cleaning action of Scope Mouthwash and Crest Toothpaste and Pantene Pro-V. Hell, I got so caught up and went and took a shower right on the spot. Speaking of which, as part of the reward, Koror also won a 55 gallon drum of fresh water for the camp. Almost immediately everyone became excited with the prospect of a shower, but Tom quickly put the kibotch on that. He ruled that the water could only be used for drinking and cooking, which is not entirely an illogical stance. Still, his authoritarian decision-making rubbed some people the wrong way, especially when he yelled “As the Grand Shark Slayer and Ruler of the Koror Tribe, I hereby declare this water sacred and holy. My manservant Ian will guard this reservoir, and only I shall decide who is worthy of replenishment by this life-giving spring.” He then added, “Also, I forgot to Tivo Desperate Housewives. If someone can get me the episodes we’re missing, I’ll let you drink half a gallon, no strings attached.”
Actually, none of that happened, but Tom did annoy several tribemates, including Jenn who just wanted to take one simple shower. She actually became quite heated in her interview as she didn’t see what the big deal was. Aw Tom. Have a heart. She just wants a shower. One teeny-weeny, cute as a button shower. Aw Tom. She weally wants it. Tee-hee! But not even the sweetest gal in all of the South Pacific could melt his heart. NO WATER FOR YOU, BLONDIE!
Over at Ulong, the two losers once again licked their wounds. “I had my throat open,” insisted Bobby Jon, opening up the floor for various BJ / open throat puns. Here’s the thing. Having the throat open is great. But the trick to successful consumption is chewing. You know, like when you move your jaw up and down. Is any of this sounding familiar, Bobby Jon? Anything at all? Okay, never mind. Let’s just go back to the blow job jokes.
Sadly, if there was anyone who needed the cleaning products, it was BJ himself. Unlike everyone else out on the islands, Bobby Jon seemed unaware that it was possible to bathe in such bizarre places as “in the sea” or “with sand.” Stephenie registered disgust as she observed not only how dirty and grimy her Pigpen tribemate was, but how he had simply reverted to Neanderthal roots. This was best evidenced by watching him take out his frustration on a wayward piece of wood which he hacked with all his might. I can understand though. I mean, even the piece of wood has won immunity.
Speaking of which, the next day both tribes prepared for the next immunity challenge. Ian acknowledged that with Ulong’s numbers dwindling, things at Koror would be turning bitter very soon. “We’re on the verge of complete ridiculousness,” he said. The verge? Judging by the goofy grin on your face and the various skeletal heads adorning camp, I’d say you’ve already taken the dive. But wait, maybe he was right. A few moments later he informed us that the final four would be him, Tom, Katie, and… Stephenie? Whaa? This IS ridiculousness. I’ve been spending so much time enjoying the fall of Ulong that I forgot there was a whole scheming aspect to this game. Let the passive aggression begin!
As for Ulong, Steph and Bobby Jon weren’t even thinking about final four. They had other pressing issues, like snot rockets. Yes, Bobby Jon decided to liven up camp life with some airborne boogers, but unfortunately, Stephenie was unimpressed. After all, she’s a woman who enjoys the finer things in life, like conversation and… not having mucus hurtled in her general direction. Still, the two put aside their differences to go fishing and once again, Bobby Jon hauled in another stunning bounty. This time his fish seemed to be about the size of a PSP (hey Sony, like the plug? Wanna send us a promotional one? Please???), and with protein in their bodies, the two trekked on out to the immunity challenge with the hopeful notion that they might, for once, win.
With everyone gathered around, Probst snatched the immunity idol back from Koror, adding “Ulong, that means anyone can win.” I suppose that was his passive aggressive way of saying “GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER YOU IDIOTS!” Anyway, the challenge was incredibly convoluted. Let’s see if I can remember it. A member from each team had to swim out to a pontoon, dive underwater and free a bag of puzzle pieces, climb up on the pontoon, walk over a balance beam and swim back to shore. Then the next team member would head out, except he or she would have to swim out to a farther pontoon and so on and so forth. Think that’s it? YOU’RE WRONG! Once teams had collected all four bags of puzzle pieces, they then had to fit them together on a board. First puzzle completed wins immunity, right? WRONG! Turns out the completed puzzle would form a word scramble. Teams would then have to find about twenty words and circle them. Okay. And then it would be over. NO. Teams would then have to find each instance where two words intersected. The shared letter would then have to be written down. When a team had found all the letters, they would have to use them to form a common phrase. … … Sorry, I was waiting for the next part of the challenge. Maybe teams would then have to lasso a giant turtle and ride it out to sea where they’d find more puzzle pieces that would form a crossword, but all the answers would be in some foreign language that would require the use of a dictionary, the pages of which had been scattered across the island. But no. Once teams formed that final phrase, then finally they would win immunity.
I felt fairly confident, as usual, that Ulong could pull this one off. After all, while they were battling Coby and Gregg, at least Tom was safely off to the side and powerless to dominate. Sure enough, Ulong garnered a sizeable lead early on. Would the tables be turning? Eh, not so fast. Bobby Jon managed to squander most of the lead when he took too long swimming out to a pontoon. Still, he and Steph did have all their puzzle pieces first; so surely this would translate to success, right?
As Bobby Jon had mentioned time and time again, puzzles were not the tribe’s strong point. We sort of feared this might be their undoing once again, but with their momentum going strong, it seemed like the lack of brainpower might not even matter. How wrong was I. Koror not only caught up, but they pieced together their puzzle in no time, allowing them to zip through their word scramble and win immunity once again. Amazing.
Now it was the time we’d all been waiting for. What would happen to Ulong? Probst announced that Steph and Bobby Jon would be battling it out for immunity at Tribal Council. Ah, the one idea that had eluded us all. Very nice, very nice…
Since there was no need to spend the last few minutes focusing on plotting and scheming at Ulong, the producers decided to focus on Coby and his triumphant battles on Survivor. With tears in his eyes, he described how wonderful it was to be on a winning team for once. When he was a kid, he was never picked to play sports and as the years of ridicule ticked on, his self-esteem dropped, and he even quit school and… pass the tissues, please. Shame on you Mark Burnett for sneaking a four-hanky moment in on us! Actually, I didn’t cry or tear up, but it was a tender moment, and it occurred to me that this world would really be a better place if we could ship people off to an island and make them starve for six weeks.
Anyway, Ulong made its way to Tribal Council where a surprisingly cheery Jeff Probst greeted the final two. Seeing that there was no use trying to instigate things, we were suddenly privy to GentleJeff™, a kind man who only wanted to hear thoughts and reflections. You see, this is what makes Jeff great. His ability to go from asshole to best bud in a wink of the eye. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting GentleJeff about eighteen months ago (at the Playboy Mansion, no less. [pause for ooohs and ahhhs]), and I was shocked at how friendly he was. He even told me to sign up for the show. I then pointed to Colby Donaldson and said “You realize I’m not this guy, right?” Chuckles all around. Needless to say, I politely rejected Jeff Probst’s offer (Unless America wants to see an uncoordinated grouch falling off pontoons and looking pained, I’ll be enjoying the island life from my living room, thank you very much). The point is, it’s always nice to see the different sides of Probst.
Nevertheless, Jeff still wanted to know why the hell Ulong lost that day. “We just suck at puzzles,” stated Steph. Yeah, that’s an understatement. Give Bobby Jon one of those Fisher Price toys where you put the cube through the square hole, and I bet he’d still be working on it three hours later.
Poor Bobby Jon. It’s been a tough road for him. If it weren’t for the challenges, he’d be rocking Survivor. “I know where every fishing hole is,” he explained. Well, not that he’s actually caught any fish in those holes, but hey, he knows where they are, and that’s got to count for something.
Anyway, it was time for the challenge. It was pretty simple. Both of them would have to start a fire. The first one to get their flames high enough to light their torch would win. Steph expressed extreme doubt at her abilities to make fire (come on Burnett, you’re being too obvious now), but sure enough, after a slow start, she built up quite the inferno by adding lots of stringy stuff. Probst praised her progress, cheering that she was “using your brains.” Bobby Jon then looked up and asked, “Brains? What in the hell is you talkin’ about? Is that somethin’ I have too?”
Sure enough, Steph managed to light her torch, and with great excitement, Probst declared her the victor. You could tell he was really into it because when the cameras cut to him, he had his hands up over his and a big Probst smile on his face. Aww… The Probst is excited!
You know, it’s sad seeing Bobby Jon go. He was always earnest and did mean well. As he departed, he let us know that Stephenie was a strong, respectable player. “The girl’s almost invincible,” he said. Well, except for that glaring string of losses, but yeah, whatever you say. Let’s see how she fares all by herself…